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Our worlds have moved from ‘general’ everything to a need for expertise, niche and trust. The recession has increased our innate desire to understand value. The challenge of ‘being noticed’ was never greater yet opportunity abounds for clever visionaries.

The independent and ‘boutique’ sector are at the forefront of this challenge. Get it right and you can sail with the wind, get it wrong and you’ll go over the edge. It’s a fine line. However, with a little resetting of the compass, success will come.

Here are some very practical and apparently simple questions you might like to answer.

What do you mean by ‘boutique’? The definition of a boutique hotel is confused and inconsistent. That means your market already has an idea and that’s dangerous. Your first step is to define clearly what you mean by boutique. Is it small and intimate? Is it luxury? Is it design? Is it truly different?

Who are you talking to? If the answer is ‘everyone’ you will fail. A boutique hotel is a niche market. Who are they? Where are they? How do you communicate with them? With a little effort, you can answer these questions. Saying ‘everyone’ is just like setting out on a journey where a friend asks you “Where are you going?” and you reply “everywhere”

The real question a guest is asking is “Why should I stay with you?” If you anticipate that, you are half way to success. But remember, “Great food, great service and great people” are fundamentals.

If I gave you a huge flag, if I asked you to put it on your rooftop, if I said I was about to drive by and I only had seconds. What would you want to say to me about your hotel? It sounds easy but try it without sounding like your competitor.

Boutique hotels promise difference. Great boutique hotels deliver decidedly different signatures. Do you? If so, what are they?

Boutique hotels must do what big brands fail to deliver. There’s opportunity to be a speedboat rather than a liner. You can move faster, be more agile, take risks and implement faster. That has to be your culture and attitude and that comes from the top.

Design, by its very nature, is transient. Boutique hotels need to reinvent regularly. Great retailers are clever at moving their store around. Your business is no different. If you don’t, you date. If you date, you die.

The devil is of course in the detail. A really good boutique hotel is full of eye catching innovation. It makes us smile and it makes you memorable. Are you?

The very essence of boutique hotels is to be at the leading or cutting edge. Is your online presence doing just that or, if you’re honest, are you more of the same? Have a look at the websites of really good hotels in this sector.

Finally, 3 last questions; Are there elements of fun? There should be. Think of how Sir Richard Branson built Virgin. Are you value? Not price, but a price I’m happy to pay for what I got? Finally; are you really challenging the existing competition? If so, great. If not, isn’t it worth walking away from the crowd?



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